Sustainability | Renewable Energy

Global Warming and Mental Health



How Global Warming is Affecting Employees’ Mental Health in 2024

By Beth Rush

 

Mental health support has increased in the workplace because employers have realized staff can’t always leave their struggles at home. Common factors include home life, money, perfectionism and imposter syndrome, but other elements can impact employee mental health, including global warming. Though this isn’t a commonly discussed issue, it has an instrumental impact on many.


What Is Global Warming?

 

Global warming and climate change typically get confused, but global warming is the long-term warming of the planet’s overall temperature. Climate change results from global warming.

Global warming is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, which trap heat within the atmosphere. As Earth continues to warm, the environment changes and poses a threat to life forms on Earth.


Global Warming and Mental Health

 

When you hear global warming, it’s natural to think the worst. It correlates with life on Earth being affected, which can cause intense fear and panic. The American Psychological Association classifies this as eco-anxiety, which can create stress that affects the ability to sleep or control nervousness, impacting an employee’s work performance.

As its effects become prominent, environmental changes from the warming of the Earth can also affect mental health in various ways. With the increase in heat and heat waves, it’s common for many to experience an increase in aggressive behavior.

Global warming also impacts weather patterns, causing more disasters such as hurricanes, floods and brush fires. These require quick response time from first responders, putting lives at risk, while other community members are left with major home and property damage. Experiencing increased weather events can lead to anxiety, depression and extreme cases of stress, ultimately affecting quality of life. Frequent enough exposure can result in post-traumatic stress disorder.

No matter where you live or work, global warming is unavoidable. As an employer, you must understand its effects on employee mental health to be a resource for those experiencing a decline, especially as global warming becomes more of an issue.


Who’s At Risk?

 

As global warming continues to be an international issue, concerns and anxieties escalate, putting all groups at risk for poor mental health. However, some professions have a higher risk of developing problems. For example, farmers are at significant risk for poor mental health due to the effects it has on crops, ultimately affecting their livelihood.

Some populations are at higher risk for developing mental health issues due to global warming as well, such as people of color, older adults with existing mental conditions and young employees. In a 10-nation survey, 84% of people 16 to 25 were worried about the impact of global warming.


Reducing Employee Mental Health Risks due to Global Warming

 

As mental health becomes a worldwide problem, employers and lawmakers are trying to find the best solutions to support those in need. Currently, the Biden administration is holding businesses accountable for mental health care by proposing an update to The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. This proposal would clarify obligations to provide mental health benefits and the necessity of doing so.

An employer needs to provide a safe and accepting place for workers dealing with mental health concerns. If you notice a team member is going through a difficult time at work or home, some ways you can support them can include:

> Talking things out and actively listening

> Encouraging the use of resources and offering your support

> Find ways and opportunities to educate yourself about an employee’s struggles

> Minimize mental health stigma 

> Foster a sense of belonging

> Recognize that different employees experience different mental health challenges

If you’re unable to support your workers’ mental health challenges on your own or there is an increase in need, investing in outside resources can help many practice mindfulness and self-care to combat these experiences. When determining the best services for the workplace, it’s essential to compare options, including internal and external programs.

Large companies with many employees benefit from internal programs, which are onsite service systems that provide staff with mental health support. They can access external programs after hours, boosting their mental health and support after the work day.

It’s essential to remember you can modify the services you’re providing to employees based on need. Many businesses may invest in internal programs after a natural disaster while providing extended services outside the work day. The right solution for your organization will depend on many unique factors, so gather staff feedback to gauge success.


Managing Staff Mental Health Amid Climate Change

 

Though you may not fully understand your staff’s concerns about global warming, being a caring and supportive presence can help. Many adults live with a mental illness, making resources and programs a necessity to allow your employees to achieve personal and professional success. 

There’s no correct way to handle these situations, but expanding your knowledge creates a significant baseline to provide proper support channels. By being open to understanding, providing support and learning more about the impact global warming has on employee mental health is a great starting point for any employer wanting nothing but the best for their team. 



About the Author: Beth Rush is the green wellness editor at Body+Mind. She has more than five years of experience writing and editing articles covering topics like sustainable transit and the importance of green spaces in urban planning. You can find Beth on Twitter @bodymindmag.

Subscribe to Body+Mind for more posts by Beth!



 

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